When they retired, Gail and Bob Berchuk planned to join the Bernard Betel Centre. Gail’s parents were active supporters of the centre for many years, and a plaque with her father’s name hangs in the centre in recognition of his commitment and dedication to the success of the woodworking program. Gail often visited the centre with her parents and their friends. In October 2017, when she and Bob came to the centre to inquire about becoming members, they immediately felt comfortable and welcome.
Soon after joining the centre, they wanted to know how they could do more through the volunteer program. Bob had always had a passion for the game of Sudoku and facilitating a class seemed like a great fit. Wanting to co-facilitate the program with his wife, Bob first had to teach Gail, who never had an interest in Sudoku. She quickly mastered the game and now each day after breakfast, they solve a Sudoku. Bob admits, “Now she beats me.”
In January 2018, Bob and Gail teamed up to co-facilitate a Sudoku class. He brought his passion and skill of the game, and she with 44 years of experience at a Jewish Nursery Day school brought her teaching skills. Working side-by-side, they offered a beginner’s class every 8 weeks.
In March 2020 due to the pandemic, all on-site programming was temporarily suspended. This did not discourage the Berchuks, however, moving from an on-site program to virtual was not easy. Being unfamiliar with virtual programming they initially felt anxious and nervous. They were not sure their computer would work or how to set-up a space in their home to properly engage the members. Before going live, they did a trial session to build up their courage. With the assistance of staff, they were able to move the display board they used at the centre to their home.
The Berchuks have been running the virtual Sudoku program every week since April 2020. Currently they have 6 regular participants and all have become advanced players. A small group works best as this allows everyone to see the board as well as see one another.
Although the group is more advanced, the goal is not be become a champion. Bob and Gail want everyone to have fun, socialize, exercise their brain, and gain a sense of accomplishment. They provide homework for the members to try between classes.
The Sudoku program has kept many of our members connected and engaged. It has also benefitted the Berchuks. Gail says, “During this time, leading the virtual program and engaging through Zoom has kept our sanity – it has been a godsend.” Every Sunday they Zoom with five other couples who are members at the centre. They talk about the future when they will be able to resume going on trips together and socializing in person.
When the centre re-opens they are ready to resume their on-site Sudoku program, however, they think virtual programming is a good thing. “You can pick and choose which programs you want to attend and if the weather is bad, you don’t need to go out of the house. Zoom programming is here to stay.”
Gail reflects back on the challenges of the past year and what has been accomplished. “My parents, Dave and Dorothy Steiner, would be proud of us – all of us for what we are doing. They would be so pleased.”
If you are interested in join Gail and Bob for Sudoku, please email Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a full list of our Online Programs, please click HERE.